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Hearings to Be Held March 14–15 on San Joaquin Valley Ag Motor Rules

The California Air Resources Board has extended its time frame for developing new ag motor rules from one year to two years, and announced new rules will apply, at least initially, only to the San Joaquin Valley.

The good news is that San Joaquin Valley growers, by taking advantage of co-funding opportunities through the San Joaquin Valley Air District, the state (including Carl Moyer funding), and USDA-NRCS to buy tractors and other equipment with higher Tier II and Tier III motors, helped the state meet requirements of a 2007 State Implementation Plan to reduce NOx emissions for ozone in the San Joaquin Valley.

Growers in the Sacramento Valley also received a bit of good news as ARB announced it will focus new ag motor rules and requirements for cleaner burning motors, at least initially, on the San Joaquin Valley. But those growers may still want to pay attention to the current regulatory process as it is setting a precedent for a new way of achieving air quality goals nationally.

The approach of providing incentives rather than just mandating changes is new to the Clean Air Act process, and California now needs to show how it will reliably account for the success of incentive programs. To that end, the Air Resources Board will hold a series of public meetings in mid-March to discuss draft regulations for accounting for incentive-based contributions to air quality improvements from ag motors.

Workshops will be held March 14 from 1:30 to 3:30 at the SJV Air Pollution Control District Fresno office, with video feed to Modesto and Bakersfield offices; and March 15 from 1:30-3:30 at the ARB/CalEPA offices in Sacramento, with a webinar option.

San Joaquin Valley growers should stay tuned as ARB develops a SJV-only ag motor rule. This new round is intended to meet more stringent ozone standards passed in recent years by U.S. EPA. To meet this new NOx standard, ARB and the San Joaquin Valley Air District will develop a 2015 State Implementation Plan over the next two years.

Agencies will focus on developing requirements and strategies, including additional cost-share incentives for the San Joaquin Valley, to bring the state into compliance with the new standard within the next two decades. The San Joaquin Valley Air District has calculated that it will need to reduce NOx emissions from all sources by 80–90% in order to meet the new federal standard.

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